Re: [gaia] disaster relief communication

Lee W McKnight <> Fri, 06 October 2017 21:50 UTC

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From: Lee W McKnight <>
To: Jane Coffin <>, Dan Bateyko <>, Arzak Khan <>
CC: Rex Buddenberg <>, gaia <>, Steve Song <>, Kurtis Heimerl <>, Arjuna Sathiaseelan <>
Thread-Topic: [gaia] disaster relief communication
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2017 21:48:27 +0000
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Subject: Re: [gaia] disaster relief communication
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​Hi Jane, folks

Perfect set - up : ) Since folks improptu Friday afternoon lecture:

There has been a bunch of academic work around use of social media in disaster response, including the Ushahidi project which we have written about previously.

That assumes you have a functional Internet, and power grid. So reviews of some latency-insensitive messaging apps in recent Houston flood were very positive. Helped organize the impromptu Cajun Navy for example. In other cases like Boston bombing a few years ago signal to noise ratio was off with people being falsely accused. FBI tracked perpetrators in end not from social media but mainly from store security cameras new site of bombing.

Still, incorporating social media into disaster response is a basic thing these days, even if in US over 50% of 911 call centers are not yet equipped to receive text or images.

General category we have been researching and developing at Syracuse University for some time is 'social emergency response' - which aggregates any functional, and identified, equipment and networks available.  Including for 'worst case scenario' disasters.  So not worrying so much about P.25 interoperability as augmenting around/beyond that, in scenarios like Haiti earthquake, or Puerto Rico today, where cel towers and other infrastructure is knocked out.

In theory and NSF research with software defined/cognitive radio we have shown previously that a lot can be done to augment the reach of emergency response incident commanders communication, and strengthen an information mesh around them for 'Advanced Situational Awareness.'

More recently we have  a dumbed down but functional and deployable version that uses cloud services to manage devices and rf networks and reach the Internet (text & gps only) via a satphone hotspot, and a couple tethered smart phones, in emergency and/or educational use. A startup company is just starting to produce those in modest volumes.

Currently we have an Internet Backpack beta being tested by Goma Volcano Observatory in Democratic Republic of Congo, which was tested on top of the world's 3rd most dangerous volcano a month ago, and was already used in emergency response drills in neighboring communities; which also doubles as an instant school network/STEM/Internet of Things kit.

That is under discussion to spread to another hundred or so schools and hence 100 + more instant community networks in North Kivu.

Following on from that very very bandwidth limited thing, we are discussing building out across the schools and communities in North Kivu - and 5 other Provinces/Conflict Zones becoming Innovation Zones - a 24 Ghz 1G wifi data net for research and education purposes; which is basically same wireless equipment configuration as used in past emergencies (Haiti earthquake, Nepal earthquake) to get a data net up fast in those disaster regions. Chris Sedore, NYSERNET president, is the guy who has been there and done that in past, and we are working in tandem to extend from 1 Internet backpack to hopefully 30% Internet (from 4%) penetration in DRC provinces  quick. May or may not work, but excitement about instant limited solution of Internet backpack has folks ready to listen to our other suggestions. See for short form summary.  A longer form is the 30 in 2020 white paper attached, most recent is TPRC paper version. Liberia and other nations are interested in aspects of model already, even though we have just one Internet Backpack in field and have not digitally transformed any region. Lately.  Liberia will get a couple packs later this month at request of their President, who is focusing more on intant education/community network than disaster response aspects.

To check out what we are talking about (Internet Backpack) with its dual emergency and educatonal/micro-community network functions live - join us Sat. Oct. 21 @ Radical Networks in Brooklyn, in workshops 10:30am - 3:30pm. Courtesy ISOC-NYC/ISOC.

So to summarize, we are discussing and have a modular - innovation zone model - to help regions grow their infrastructure, whether disaster is an emergency incident, or the daily life crisis of living in a province with 4% Internet access. A bit too soon to say model is proven even if we know the Internet Backpack works.

(And if there is interest and a GAIA opprtunitiy to discuss further in Singapore, remotely, I am up for that; due to my teaching obligations I can't make it in person. For following meeting in London March 2018 I do look forward to attending and eprhaps meeting some of you then.)


Lee W McKnight  | Associate Professor |  School of Information Studies

Syracuse University

228 Hinds Hall

Syracuse, New York 13244  USA

+1 (315) 278.4392<><>

From: Jane Coffin <>
Sent: Friday, October 6, 2017 4:26 PM
To: Dan Bateyko; Arzak Khan; Lee W McKnight
Cc: Rex Buddenberg; gaia; Steve Song; Kurtis Heimerl; Arjuna Sathiaseelan
Subject: Re: [gaia] disaster relief communication

Hi Dan –

Adding Lee McKnight from Syracuse.

Lee – what do you think?


Internet Society |
Skype:  janercoffin
Mobile/WhatsApp:  +

From: gaia <> on behalf of Dan Bateyko <>
Date: Friday, October 6, 2017 at 4:58 PM
To: Arzak Khan <>
Cc: Rex Buddenberg <>, gaia <>, Steve Song <>, Kurtis Heimerl <>, Arjuna Sathiaseelan <>
Subject: Re: [gaia] disaster relief communication

Hi all,

Question inspired by this thread:  Could anyone point me to an example of ICT for disaster relief becoming the de facto infrastructure in a region post-crisis? Wondering if there's a "Shock Doctrine" for telecommunication.

As ever,

On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 9:44 AM, Arzak Khan <<>> wrote:

Dear All,

We at Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan are running an initiative called TOPS (Tactical Operations) activated during disasters across Pakistan. Basically our tactical operations provide the following:

  *   1) Tactical Operations team uses portable satellite communications equipment to provide voice and data communications for aid workers who rely on these tools to coordinate logistics and deliver lifesaving supplies.
  *   2) Provide vital ICT Support (Internet, Telephone, Sat-phone and E-mail) to first responders and relief organizations.
  *   3) Establish multiple communications center equipped with internet, phone and radio capabilities. In addition, iPOP tactical operations team also provides free phone calls to people living in temporary camps and shelters.
  *   4) Establish dedicated communication center for women enabling them to communication and reconnect them with displaced family members.
We have been working jointly with Provincial Disaster Management Authorities on various missions during floods, earthquake and other man made disasters. You can learn more about it

Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan | iPOP Tactical ...<><>
Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan tactical operations team can establish satellite based communications system so government agencies, humanitarian organizations ...

I would be happy to share further insight in to out planning and deployment if needed.


Arzak Khan

From: gaia <<>> on behalf of Kurtis Heimerl <<>>
Sent: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 6:14 PM
To: Rex Buddenberg
Cc: gaia; Steve Song; Arjuna Sathiaseelan
Subject: Re: [gaia] disaster relief communication

I want to support Steve's request here; as someone who has dabbled in Disaster Relief it feels like there's an opportunity to do impactful work in the space but I don't know of any good places to get grounded in the current state of the art. Can we have any part of the upcoming GAIA meeting be focused on exploring this topic? Any domain experts in Singapore we can invite?

On Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 11:04 AM, Rex Buddenberg <<>> wrote:
Suggest that there are two (at least) genres that need to be merged --
treated together.  Emergency services (reach to fire/ ambulance/
police/ ...) is the other genre.  In a disaster, expect a push to build
out both.

Emergency services communications is one of the bastions of non-IP
technologies.  P25 is an example of a protocol heavily pushed by
various emergency services agencies. But it's non-routable.  Much of
the development has been colored by the perceived need to jam whatever
comms link is concocted into the narrowband Land Mobile Radio channels
(25kHz and less).

The economics is that the two genres end up costing twice for the
infrastructure.  This is true both for permanent infrastructure and
quick-build into disaster areas.

Warning: this is an area of acrimonious debate, often sadly lacking in
facts.  But it is a debate that needs to be joined.

On Tue, 2017-10-03 at 17:40 +0100, Arjuna Sathiaseelan wrote:
> Hello Steve,
> the IEEE global humanitarian technology conference is a good venue to
> look at for the latest research/deployment experience papers:
> last year:
> /
> this looks like a good journal to keep an eye on when the papers get
> published:
> -critical-public-safety-communications-architectures-enabling-
> technologies-future-applications/
> regards
> a decent survey paper:
> on_technologies_for_public_safety.pdf
> regards
> On 3 October 2017 at 17:25, Steve Song <<>> wrote:
> >
> > Hi all,
> >
> > Are there any particularly good web resources and/or academic
> > papers that
> > profile the range of disaster relief technologies / solutions both
> > planned
> > and currently in use?
> >
> > Many thanks... Steve
> >
> > --
> > +1 902 529 0046<tel:%2B1%20902%20529%200046>
> ><>
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > gaia mailing list
> ><>
> >
> >

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Dan Bateyko